May 10, 2011

Jenny Esparza Named Horizon League Pitcher of the Year

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Sophomore Jenny Esparza, who’s become Butler’s all-time strikeouts leader in just two seasons, has been named the 2011 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year.  She was one of four Butler players named to the All-League Team, released by the league office on Tuesday (May 10).

Esparza, who helped Butler to a 28-22 regular season record and a third place finish in the Horizon League, posted a 10-3 record in league play with a 1.33 earned run average and 135 strikeouts in 94.2 innings.  Her 208 strikeouts overall are second in the league only to Cleveland State’s Tess Sito, who has 293 strikeouts but has pitched 128 more innings than Butler’s ace.  Esparza, who tied her own Butler single game record with 18 strikeouts against league champ Loyola last month, boasts a Butler career record 515 strikeouts in two seasons.

The Butler righthander was one of three Bulldogs named first team All-League.  She was joined by juniors Erin Falkenberry and Lauren McNulty.  Falkenberry, who was a second team All-League performer a year ago, leads the Horizon League in home runs (12) and ranks second in the league in runs batted in (40).  She’s Butler’s all-time leader in home runs (30).  McNulty currently leads the Bulldogs in hitting (.308) and runs scored (31), and she’s second on the team in home runs (8).

Butler senior Erin Jackson, who leads the Bulldogs in hits (48) and ranks third in the Horizon League in stolen bases (16), was tabbed second team All-League.

Sito, who boasts a .369 batting average and a 1.65 earned run average, was named Horizon League Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.  Loyola freshman righthander Brittany Gardner of Loyola was tabbed the league’s Newcomer of the Year, and Loyola head coach Missy Beseres was named league Coach of the Year.

Butler will begin play in the 2011 Horizon League Softball Championship at Loyola on Wednesday, May 11.  The Bulldogs, who earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament, will face No. 6 seed Wright State at 1:30 p.m. (CT).  The double-elimination tournament will conclude on Saturday, May 14.